How often do we stop to think about this? Although there are plenty of psychology studies out there that seek to answer this very same question, it is always important to ask this question to ourselves, because of the times we live in. There is hardly no one these days who is not a member of a social … Read More
How often do we stop to think about this? Although there are plenty of psychology studies out there that seek to answer this very same question, it is always important to ask this question to ourselves, because of the times we live in. There is hardly no one these days who is not a member of a social networking site. Psychologists have pondered about this question and reproduced studies, such as the University of Waterloo’s study titled: Do people who have difficulty with social connection use Facebook in ways that enrich their lives? This study, as many other studies before, reveal that although there is a clear indication that social networking sites like Facebook could actually increase your social interactions, there are exist signs that these websites do tend to replace face-to-face interactions.
Facebook is perhaps the most iconic, most known, and most used social networking sites right now, with now having surpassed the 1 billion user mark, Facebook stands as the social network site of choice. Facebook is what Google represents for search engines. Facebook, and the concept of Facebook friends is something quite interesting, because it uses the term ‘friend,’ something we have grown to associate with those people who are in our entourage. In most cases, people have real friends among Facebook friends, in other cases also other societal contexts of people are mixed, like family and even co-workers. When people take this approach, as it is yours truly, we start to blur the lines between different types of people in our circle of friends, because all the people you know are in the same playing field. The choice can allow to see Facebook as the place we have most friends. This is not the case of Twitter, because the concept of a ‘follower’ is less personal, a follower is more in the likes of following an RSS feed, except the feed is not produced by a specific or a number of authors, but by a person and their thoughts. The follower in Twitter is not like the ‘friend’ in Facebook, so I would argue Twitter is less personal and has the greater potential of not being as social. Understandably so, as Twitter is more like blogging, hence the name ‘microblogging,’ of course conversations can and do take place, but they tend to take many forms. It is indeed a incredible source to find and exchange information.
It would be so simplistic for me to say: social media can be social, if you make it social. In this sense anything on the web can be thought about in this way. If one thing is for sure more conversations are happening on social media than in real life, in the same way people are making less phones calls and choosing to send text messages, whether it would be SMS messages, iMessages, WhatsApp messages, Facebook Messenger messages or Skype messages. The real question should be whether the interactions that happen via text messages, video messages (Skype), comments on blogs, comments on YouTube, etc., are these interactions less social simply because they happen on the computer, rather than face-to-face interactions? Because if the answer is yes, we are living in the most social times we have ever lived.
It used to be that you play a video game, like Pac Man, and your purpose was simply to beat the score of whomever left the highest score, only initials would be left. When you play a video game now often the ‘online’ component becomes the best part of the game, whether you team up with people from half across the world or not, many times you can text or even talk to them as you play. In other games, where you don’t text or talk, you know you are teaming up with people simply through their avatars. So the concept of playing games online is, it can be argued, now more social too. So, when we live in a time where just about anyone owns a cell phone, with as many as a 6.8 billion cell-phone subscriptions, we are in the mist of constant day-to-day interaction uninterrupted engagement with people via social media. What would the result of this be? This is something we will have to just see, my hope and optimistic outlook is that we will have the opportunity to strengthen bonds, perhaps turning more of those Facebook ‘friends’ into real friends.